countries
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North America | Canada
Port Rexton / Only Passing Through: Unsung Towns of Unknown Dreams

the delusive beauty of scratching a place's surface instead of digging deep
 

   No matter how small a town, no matter how much time you bring or take there, you can never know a place fully. Even some remote dimensions of your hometown will forever be out of reach as they are out of sight with your view all skewed by individual experience, socio-economic surroundings, mindset matters, and the people you (don't) interact with. When you talk about what it's like to live there, you talk about what it's like for you.

"the more dedicated the immersion, the more friction, the more generously the visitor spends time on local interaction and looks behind corners, the more notes they can gather."

Of course, your familiarity with your hometown is vast compared to a visitor passing through. And while a stranger’s outside perspective might carry unbiased information that is inaccessible to the perpetual resident, they can hardly experience the inhabitant’s insider angle. That’s why immersion is the traveler’s key to unlocking a widened understanding of a place; the more dedicated the immersion, the more friction, the more generously the visitor spends time on local interaction and looks behind corners, the more notes they can gather.

"Few souls have been passed down through the soil of these towns, but in my head they have plenty of stories to tell, all of them really, fat plots and blue plots and salty plots, and there is always space for me in them..."

I’m all for immersive travel, and then some. That said, there is a beautiful delusion that I welcome from time to time, between here and there, when I only scratch a place's surface without digging deeper. For it is in the unknown where imagination lives and in the foreigner’s head any town can tell any story.

 

Passing though these unsung towns hidden in the hinterlands, they become materializations of unknown dreams I’ve never had. When I catch a fleeting glimpse of a roadside village or a far-off town, I see a million lives lived. Not actual lives, but possible ones. Few souls have been passed down through the soil of these towns, but in my head they have plenty of stories to tell, all of them really, fat plots and blue plots and salty plots, and there is always space for me in them: suddenly I'm a boy on a swing in this here garden, then a carpenter building that fence over there. Someone has sat on the old pier with a fishing rod and his crush lived in the yellow house on top of the little hill – I know that because I have been them, both. Beers at the local brewery have been had. I was there.


My glimpse is pure, unsoiled, and unspoiled by knowing the actual realities and lives. I will never know whether the true plots are similar to my daydreams or more different than I can imagine, whether they are prettier, or lonelier, or darker. But from my purely imaginative vantage point, they are rarely dull or ugly. As long as you leave in time before the unknown becomes known, a place can forever remain an unsullied utopia.



 

I know next to nothing about you, Port Rexton in Newfoundland; but painted with my romanticism, you look like you’re making those who live you very happy.

 

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elsewhere

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in North America